Like many people, I watched Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest during last Monday night’s football game with a deep sense of anxiety and fear, and I was moved by the heroic actions taken to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use an automatic external defibrillator (AED).
The care he received on the field in the moments after the collision may have saved his life. It’s not surprising that the NFL has top-notch professionals on the sidelines for in-game emergencies, but it might surprise you to know that you don’t have to be a trained medical professional to learn this life-saving skill. And while Hamlin’s incident happened to a professional athlete in a game televised during prime time, CPR could save a life anytime, anywhere.
To me, this tragic situation highlights the need for CPR training and AED access. As a pediatric cardiologist, here’s why I believe everyone should be CPR-trained.
- Knowledge = Power. Getting trained in CPR can help you stay calm in an emergency because it gives you the skills and confidence to act quickly and effectively. When it comes to emergencies, knowledge is power; it can help dispel fear and keep you clear-headed in a time when quick decisions could be life-saving.
- Get it anywhere, take it everywhere. CPR is a skill you take with you wherever you go. This is handy because emergencies can happen to anyone, anytime, so having the know-how to deal with a medical emergency, no matter the location, can make all the difference for someone experiencing cardiac arrest.
- Incorrect CPR can actually be harmful. Getting trained in CPR by a certified instructor can not only teach you correct CPR, it can reduce the risk of complications that can occur when CPR is administered incorrectly. By not knowing how to give CPR properly, you can actually hurt someone; internal injuries and inadequate compression – leading to not enough oxygen going to the brain – are just a few of the consequences of CPR performed by an untrained person.
- Low-investment, high-reward. CPR and AED certification classes are low-cost and are offered by many organizations right in your community, including the American Red Cross and local community colleges. Families and community members can often get CPR certified in one half-day course, so with just a few hours of your time, you are developing a skill that could save lives.
- You could be someone’s hero. CPR helps the body circulate blood in the event the heart isn’t able to do so effectively. The longer someone goes without CPR, the more likely they are to suffer long-term consequences or even death. With the knowledge of how to properly administer CPR, you could save that person’s life – you could be their on-field hero.
About the Author
Board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics, Dr. Lerraughn Morgan joined Valley Children’s as a pediatric cardiologist at the Willson Heart Center in 2019. He is a core faculty member of Valley Children’s Pediatric Residency Program. Dr. Morgan has shared his expertise in pediatric cardiology through various presentations, lectures, abstracts and peer-reviewed journals including the World Journal of Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery and Cardiology in the Young.